Arizona Trail Days 10-14: Triple Zero on the South Rim & Passage 37, Grand Canyon South Rim (Trans-Arizona/Utah Hike Days 17-20)

My late arrival the other night meant that I wasn’t able to make it to the majority of the gathering, but I did still get to see some people. I was then able to spend a few days conducting post-hike job interviews, resting, resupplies – my main reason for the extended stay; I arrived on a Friday and the post office isn’t open again until Monday – and catching up with friends.

But ultimately, it is time to head out again.

Unfortunately, after about a week of good weather since the strong winds that came through on the North Rim, the weather is taking a turn for the worse. In the next few days the temperature will drop to 16º. After a final night, I’m heading south from the South Kaibab Trailhead. I saw a coyote last night on the Rim; this morning brings an elk and its calf as I start the journey south to Flagstaff. The trail winds through the woods for a quarter mile or so, then crosses Desert View Drive before heading towards the south entrance road. There’s some confusion in this segment since it clearly has recently been rerouted and differs from my map. But I do sort it out. The trail runs on a dirt road on the east side of the South Entrance Rd for a while; this stretch brings the first snake sighting on the trail, a Great Basin gopher snake. Bull snakes, a subspecies, are among the longest snakes in North America (up to 8 feet). It’s not venemous. The trail crosses the entrance road and follows the Tusayan Greenway through the ponderosas to the park exit, then crosses the road again on the north side of Tusayan before curving to the east of town, entering the Kaibab National Forest and running through rice grass meadows among ridges of Kaibab Limestone, ponderosa pines and gambel oaks. The fall foliage that started on the North Rim with aspens continues here on the South Rim with gambel oaks, which look particularly good in evening light. Just north of FR-302, in a sheltered grove of ponderosas, I make camp for the night. It’s chilly, but the full brunt of the cold snap isn’t here yet, and hopefully won’t quite get here for a couple days. Here is hoping.

Great Basin gopher snake (bull snake), Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Arizona Trail through ponderosa pines, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Gambel Oaks fall foliage emerging, Grand Canyon National Park
Departing Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park entry gate on Tusayan Greenway segment of Passage 37, Arizona Trail.
National Park Service Arrowhead, Grand Canyon National Park entry gate (Arizona Trail Passage 37)
Arizona Trail through ponderosas and oaks, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
Gambel oaks along Arizona Trail, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
Moon over Arizona Trail through rice grass meadows between ponderosa-covered limestone outcrops, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
Gambel oaks among ponderosas on limestone outcrop ridges, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona
Gambel oaks among ponderosas on limestone outcrop ridges, Kaibab National Forest, Arizona

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